Jan 17, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just a month ago, the Skaneateles girls ice hockey team was a big question mark, especially in its search for players who could put the puck in the net.
Now, though, the Lakers are on a serious roll, having won seven in a row, four of them in the last seven days, capped by Thursday night’s impressive 4-1 victory over Oswego in a first-place showdown at Austin Park Pavilion.
Head coach Mike Major said that the season started to turn around when his players started to listen more to what the coaches were saying, which translated to better play on the ice.
“The girls have done everything we’ve asked,” he said. “They’re all buying in to what we are doing.”
Part of what Skaneateles is doing is buzzing around an opponent’s net and taking advantage of its many scoring chances. In just the last week, the Lakers outscored its four foes (Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Alexandria Bay and Oswego) by a combined margin of 19-1.
And it all culminated against Oswego, the Lakers’ closest competition in the Section III division, with an effort that featured timely strikes and plenty of sound defense.
Right away, the defensive part was established as Skaneateles held the Buccaneers to five shots in the first period. Even when Oswego picked up a power play, it could not get anything past Amanda Lupo, who was aiming for her fourth consecutive shutout.
With 1:01 left in the period and the game 0-0, the puck drifted out from Sarah Schnorr’s stick to the right wing, where defender Sarah Sauda flung a wrist shot past Bucs goalie Maddie Whalen to put the Lakers up 1-0.
Sauda said that she intended to shoot low, as her coaches wanted, but that when Whalen went low, she aimed her shot high – and connected.
And Sauda wasn’t done, either. At the 5:06 mark of the second period, Sauda took the puck from Allison Weiss and saw Madison Singler take off.
“The middle of the ice was open,” said Sauda.
Without hesitation, Sauda passed it to Singler, who streaked in alone against Whalen and beat her high, just as Sauda had done earlier, making it 2-0.
Despite out-shooting the Bucs 10-2 in that second period, Skaneateles did not score again, but it stayed patient and, with four lines in operation, waited for the right moment in the third period to break clear.
It came with 8:52 left, on a power play, as passes from Weiss and Sophie Kush set up Claire Michel in front of the net for an easy goal. Just 20 seconds later, Sophie Kuhns, unassisted, found the net as the fourth different Laker to score, making it 4-0.
About the only thing that went wrong was that Lupo (who finished with 12 saves) surrendered a goal to Oswego’s Hannah Croteau late in the period, but it was a bit of payback since Croteau’s hard shot had crashed off the crossbar just a few minutes earlier. Whalen, in defeat, had 23 saves.
Two nights before the first Oswego showdown, the Lakers got to play on the big ice at Allyn Arena against Alexandria Bay, and thoroughly enjoyed it, jumping all over the Purple Ghosts and prevailing 4-0 for its seventh consecutive victory and third straight shutout.
What happened in the first period set the night’s tone. Almost camping out in Alex Bay’s end, the Lakers took 15 shots to the Purple Ghosts’ one, and quickly gained a 2-0 lead.
Madison Singler earned both of those goals, putting one in the net at the 4:29 mark, and returning to score again with just 31.7 seconds to play in the period as Lynn Copeland fed her.
Alex Bay settled down and kept it 2-0 until the opening minute of the third period, when Sophie Kush tacked on a goal. Grace Schnorr, off a feed from Sarah Sauda, converted midway through the period to add a further cushion.
All the while, an impressive Skaneateles defense turned back all of the Purple Ghosts’ attacks, making things easier for goalie Amanda Lupo, who only had to make 13 saves. Alex Bay’s netminder, Kayla McCabe, finished with 31 saves.
Skaneateles isn’t done with Oswego, with the rematch taking place Tuesday night at Crisafulli Rink, made up from a Jan. 7 snow postponement. And the playoffs are less than two weeks away.
“We’re at a good point right now,” said Sauda. “We just need to work on the little things in order to get better.”